Thursday, November 30, 2017

Do you believe in Work-Life Balance?

A few things from me to consider.  I break my life into the "Four F's".  
  1. Family 
  2. Finances 
  3. Fitness
  4. Philanthropy (get it... it sounds like an "F" ;-) 
These four areas could easily lay on top of Friedman's work, home, community, and self.  
The next point to consider is that I don't think life-balance is practical.  From a pragmatic standpoint, I believe in life-blend.  At certain times, parts of your life will need your more than others and you have to be able to blend then together to satisfy all of your needs.  I use the metaphor of juggling, and the four areas of your life represent balls.  Your family and finances are glass and your philanthropy and fitness are rubber.  You need to juggle all four balls.  The two most important balls can never be dropped or they will be damaged and the other two, if they are dropped, will easily rebound back because they are rubber.  I use this metaphor in my life-blend model to be highly productive in the important areas of my life.  
The one area that I always want to give more time is my family which includes my children and my four siblings.  One of the things I recently did was schedule a monthly conference call with all of my siblings so we can update each other on what is new in our lives. It was been great and I highly recommend this.  
Good luck juggling all of the important aspects of your life.  
Onward and upward!
Steven the Speaker!  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Zeus is One of the Best Places to Work!

Here is the Company Gossip!    

If I have said it once, then I have said it a million times, "Zeus Mortgage Bank is one of the best places to work".  AND it all comes down to the amazing people!!!

We have a quarterly planning meeting where we review the past, present, and future of the enterprise.   This year we delayed the first one and just had our mid year report.

Here is some of the anonymous feedback from our team on their experience in the meeting:

Amazing! thanks for everything!

Great info to help me to better understand the direction of the company’s growth

Inspiring – I’m excited about learning more and growing more and being BETTER!

Away from the office -  having the meeting offsite is a very good idea. Pulls people out of their natural work environment which makes it more special and opens people up to think about things other than their current tasks.

Thank you for always being a leader and pushing me forward/out of my comfort zone.

As always – I feel empowered afterwards

Love the comfy atmosphere

Great job conveying the message that you wanted to today.

This was a great meeting where we as a group got to see what Zeus has in store for the future and for us.

I loved that there was no way to not learn anything from this meeting.

Thank you for the best meeting.

NEVER skip this meeting again, EVER. It’s a great part of what makes us great.

I have a better understanding of making space for the work you have planned!

Grateful for the openness and for the respectful challenges.

I liked that there were many opportunities to interact with each other.

The meeting was much better that expected and although I am anxious to have to commit to something. But I welcome the challenge to do something that I have never done before.
The venue and the meeting style was great and I look forward to our next one.
Lunch              A         (Great atmosphere to socialize + converse w/ colleagues)
Venue              A+       (You know my position on thins 😉)
Content           A         (very motivating + inspiring meeting)

I appreciate how you give us the tools to better ourselves + grow in both our professional and personal lives.

Great rundown on quarter number, seeing where we need to improve.  How you are willing to work w/ each of us to make us better. Looking forward to have a one on one to pick you brain.

Dear Steven

This was my first Quarterly meeting at Zeus. The venue and the presentation were well planned and presented.

I enjoyed the fact that despite of many issues and failures by the departments your presentation was structured in a way to assist all of us.

I appreciate the time and effort put into planning this event.

Please include more reports and statistics from other departments so that there will be more feedback on the graphs.

This was great!


Did you know that we are consistently ranked as one of the best places to work? If you know someone who wants to experience what its like to work for an amazing company then please email us at


Zeus Mortgage Bank - "Great results in 2017"

The baldest man in Houston

2017 Corporate Value Performance 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Comedian's View of Entrepreneurship!

The Department of Labor claimed a farmer was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to investigate him.

Department of Labor employee: I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them.

Farmer:  Well, there's my farm hand who's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board. Then there's the mentally challenged worker. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally."

Department of Labor employee: That's the guy I want to talk to...the mentally challenged one.

Farmer:  That would be me.

Steven the Speaker!  

The Baldest Man in Houston! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

What Skills Make You a Successful Real Estate Investor

Hello Everyone:  
This was an interesting question.  Recently, my ten year old daughter asked me what my strongest attributes were in business and it took me by surprise for many obvious reasons.  Here is a short recap of my thoughts on this question and my interaction with my daughter.  

My number one go to attribute is work ethic.  My secret formula for success is relentless work. This alone will not get it done because we all know plenty of people who work hard but never get anywhere.  Another competency I have, which is also an attitude, is my sense of optimism.  I am not a go-lucky or pie in the sky type of optimist.  I want facts and figures so I can live in reality.  I want to see things as they actually are not dilute my current vision of the situation.  Yet, I also have extreme hope and positivity for the future.  I am what I call, a pragmatic optimist.  I don't pretend one way or another that now is better or worse than it is but I have strong feelings of optimism about how good it can get.  In other words, I am a dreamer.  The third competency, which is actually a competency, is that I am effective.  This is critical.  Many people work hard.  Many people are optimist.  Not everyone is effective.  I think you need this combination to be successful professionally, personally, and certainly in aiding in work as a change agent.  
In the past, I have mentioned my goal to own the fastest lending company in the United States.  This accomplishment took all of these attributes and more.  It required a grit and staying with it that was foreign to us at the time and requires constant reminding now.  
The biggest developmental opportunity I have right now is what I call "active listening".  It is another way of saying patience or another way of saying being present.  Ironically, I get impatient waiting to be patient with people or ideas to formulate.  I also seem to have to focus on something around me or within me to get myself present.  For example, if you asked me to get present I would start thinking about my breath or focus on the trees or clouds, if any were in sight, but all of this makes me less present to you!  So, I started doing something called active listening to make sure I am truly communicating with people, making sure they get a chance to be heard and know they are heard, and slow down my quick responses that often come without all the facts.  Like they say, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason and listing twice as much as I talk is active listening demonstrated.  
Onward and upward!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Focus on Current Problems or Create a Future - Reverse Engineering Success?

Q:  Evaluating solutions and answers can give you ideas on how to start working to make a difference and improve.  It could also, on the opposite side, help you to see where you want to end up/finish, and then work backwards to make it happen.   It is not about focusing entirely on the current situation and how to fix it, but dreaming/thinking/reflecting on what the ideal situation is.  

A:  I love concepts like Appreciative Inquiry versus Action Research.  We call this the Merlin Effect or Benjamin Button Effect which really means looking at what you want and reverse engineering your success.  WDYWFY is another one that I am familiar with.  What Do You Want For Yourself is the personal goal setting version of this.  
This is mostly all from my experience and not research so let me qualify these opinions with that. I love focusing on what is working and what you want over your problems.  However, in real practice, there are issues that arise in our personal and professional relationships that require resolving issues and problems.  If you ignore the issues of today then you are creating new ideas and initiatives on top of a poor foundation.  If you focus too much on the problems then you disempower yourself and others to see what is possible.  So I recommend driving with both hands.  In my right is dealing with challenges and issues that exist and deserve our attention.  In my left is creating an enrolling powerful inspiring future that everyone, or mostly everyone, can see themselves living into.  If you drive too much with either hand, to the right or left, you will wreck the car, or at best, drive in circles.  
Lastly, I am learning in my personal and professional life that it is really impractical to reverse engineer success.  We look at others and try to emulate them.  We do this in almost every area of our lives.  This is either motivating so we feel like we have a path or it provides a dose of self-loathing that is just enough to motivate us to try harder.  In either case, this is a fallacy because it is really not possible, reasonably, to reverse engineer someone's life or business.  There are just too many parts.  Education, work ethic, timing, genetics, family, location, courage, creativity, compassion... the list is too long.  
What do you think?  
Very respectfully, 
Speed > Typos

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Dad Was Pretty Weird - A Tribute

Alan Kaufman

My dad was pretty weird!

If you never met him then let me create a little picture for you.  Alan was one of four brothers and clearly the black sheep in the family.  He certainly grew up with a slight learning disability and he spent most of his working life as a mechanic, security guard, and a janitor.  He was the quiet weird guy just doing his job in the background with the same commitment that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. He had very few words and delighted in the most basic pleasures, like a great Chinese Buffet and William Shatner Star Trek reruns.  Needless to say, he didn’t say much, he didn’t need much, and he passively went with the flow.  

So why is he so weird?  Well, he has several of the elusive character traits that are written about, preached about, and dreamt about, that he’s truly an anomaly… an outlier…. a quiet role-model.  Aside from a LinkedIn or Facebook motivational quote, it will be difficult to find someone with any one of these traits lived so submissively as my father, but next to impossible to reference someone who lived all of these traits so completely.  Don’t believe me, read for yourself.  

Commitment - 

My father was married once.  He was married to my mother for 46 years.  He married her with her three children and they had two more together.  He raised her three children like his own and, his quiet but steadfast commitment, was a glue to our family bond. He was married and had five children and that was that for 46 years. 

Tolerance - 

As long as I can remember, my dad had major back problems which resulted in multiple surgeries, shots, and procedures. He had extreme trouble walking for the past decade and this progressed into repeated falls and other health issues.  He never complained.  He never complained.  He never complained.  I spoke to my dad weekly and here’s how the conversation went most of the time. 

My dad: Hello my son Steven!

Me: How are you feeling? 
My dad: I’m alright (he always said, “I’m alright”)

Me: Are you sure?  
My dad: Yes

Me: Anything new going on?  
My dad: No

Me: How’s the weather up there?  
My dad: It’s good

Me: Have you watched any good movies lately?
My dad: No

Me: I love you Dad
My dad: Okay, here’s your mother      

You’re not going to believe me when I say this, but I can’t remember my father ever complaining about how he felt.  He just didn’t do it.  He and my mother did the best they could do to help him get better but that was the extent of it.  He didn’t hold back or restrain himself because of bravado or manliness, but because that was, who he was.  His tolerance for discomfort is unthinkable in today’s “first world problems” society.    

Hard Work -

When I was growing up my father was always working.  Images of him in his work uniform are some of my earliest childhood memories.  He led by example and never expected or requested credit or praise.  He just showed up.  One of my memories that has framed my life is the day I showed my father a report card with a grade of 96.  I was so proud to show him this and get his approval.  In typical Alan style, he replied with only a few simple and soft words: “you couldn’t get a hundred?”.  I knew immediately that he was right, and I was inspired to work harder to be more like him.  If I had worked a little harder, like him, then I would have gotten that hundred.  For anyone reading this that knows me, you know I’m constantly working a little harder to get that hundred.  

Love - 

In 2007 I completed the a personal development course called the Landmark Forum.  Part of the homework in the course is to contact important people in your life.  I called my parents to let them know how much they meant to me.  After spending several minutes talking to my mom, sharing my thoughts and several tears with her, she responded amazingly with generosity and grace.  Then came my father, who wasn’t much into discussing emotions or feelings.  After spending several minutes talking to him about my thoughts and feelings, I told him how much I love him.  He said “I know” and quickly passed the phone to my mother.  He didn’t do this because he couldn’t talk about his feelings.  My father loved me and I’ve always been very clear about that.  For him, telling you, he loved you, was so obvious it was like telling you the sky was blue.  For him, it wasn't worth the effort to say something so obvious. For him, it was always just a given that he loved me and my family.  

Satisfaction -

He delighted in the most simple pleasures.  Of course he wanted the latest and greatest if he could have it, but if that wasn’t in the cards it was just as fine with him.  From watching Three Stooges reruns to enjoying a nice bagel and lox, my father enjoyed his life.  For him, it was not settling.  For him, it was the way it was.  He was fully engaged with whatever it was that made him happy and satisfied, and the rest of the world didn’t matter.  His sense of contentment, even in discomfort, is difficult to imagine but I saw it with my own eyes. 

These are some of my fondest attributes of my father.  I used to think my father was too tolerant and that this was a sign of weakness to be this way.  For a portion of my life I looked down on him for this.  One day I was having this conversation with my friend Mark. Mark asked me to list any famous bridges that I knew.  I quickly referenced the Brooklyn, London, and Golden Gate bridges and wondered what his point was.  He asked me to describe why these bridges are so famous aside from their location.  It didn’t take long for me to describe them as the strongest and most durable bridges in the world.  “So, how does a bridge become strong?” he asked.  It was crystal clear at that moment that bridges are strong and durable because of their tolerance.  My father's tolerance was actually his strength. What I saw as a flaw in my father was actually something remarkable.  He is one of strongest men I have ever met.    

He lived his life in the service of others and the “others” were his family.  We knew it so well that we often took it for granted.  We never questioned it.  

In true Alan form, you left in the quiet of the night.  I’m grateful that you are finally able to rest in peace.   

My biggest regret, is that I’m not more like you. 

May your memory be a blessing, now, and forever.  

I love you Dad!   

Don't worry... you've been training me not to expect a response.  

Every time I see a blue sky, I'll know.  


Alan Kaufman 
April 9, 1941 - June 10, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Zeus Mortgage Bank Named One of “The Top 10 Mortgage Employers of 2016”

I'm excited to announce that National Mortgage Professional Magazine has named Zeus Mortgage Bank one of "The Top 10 Mortgage Employers of 2016." Read the full article here!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Steven Kaufman, What’s Ahead For Houston Real Estate

Last week, I was featured on Houston's own Bauer Business Focus on Houston Public Media to discuss the Houston-area housing market. You can read my full interview with Andrew Schneider here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Zeus Mortgage OutSmart's Best Mortgage Company Finalist

Zeus Mortgage and its team of experts have been voted as a finalist for OutSmart Magazine's Gayest & Greatest Mortgage Company by its readers. Ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States by Inc. Magazine and the Houston Business Journal, Zeus is proud to serve all communities in Houston and beyond.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How To Spot The Cancerous Employee

When a body has a tumor, sometimes it’s simply an annoyance to remove. A quick surgery to return your body back to normal. Other times, it’s cancerous. If not dealt with promptly, it will grow and spread and infect healthy parts of your system. Office organizations, at times, will encounter one of these “cancerous” employees – someone who brings down office culture and infects their coworkers with negative vibes, therefore inhibiting productivity. But how do you spot one of these problem employees before it’s too late? Here are a few warning signs:
  1. Gossip – When a new hire is brought on and suddenly there’s a gossip train in the office, this may be a sign. Gossip is natural in many settings, but in the workplace it can be toxic.
  2. Excuses and blame-shifting – We all make mistakes, it’s natural. But to progress, we own up to them. If an employee can’t take the blame for their own mistakes and instead shifts it to other repeatedly, the team as a whole will suffer as trust slips away. An occasional excuse may be alright, but continuous scapegoating is cancerous.
  3. The anti-cheerleader – Occasional complaints are expected. But constant negativity about the company is a no-go. Your company may need to reevaluate its culture standards, but an anti-cheerleader who seems to discuss negative aspects of the company often will bring down your team, especially new hires.
  4. “That’s not my job” – Oh, really? If an employee isn’t willing to help out others, they won’t be good for the company long-term. Especially in small organizations, employees must realize that being a team-player means wearing several hats.
Once you’ve found the source of the cancer, it’s imperative to remove it quickly. You may be able to remedy the situation with a one-on-one talk. However, if the employee continues to not remedy their cancerous tendencies, it’s time to let them go. Have you dealt with a cancer employee recently? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Four Ways To Save On A Mortgage

With more individuals, families and businesses moving to Houston, it’s no surprise that the real estate market has boomed in recent years. However, the market can be fickle and unforeseen circumstances arise that sometimes make it hard for mortgages to be paid. The following four tips can help individuals and families save on a mortgage.
  1. Add an extra annual payment:
    By adding an extra payment to the principal balance of the loan, it helps to reduce the total amount owed quicker. If done regularly, this can shave years off the loan and reduce the amount spent in interest charges. However, this doesn’t mean a payment can be skipped.
  2. Modify the existing loan:
    If all mortgage payments have been made on time and are consistent, there is a possibility of a loan modification. Usually, a bank will contact the individual paying the loan with a potential loan modification, but there are also ways to pro-actively seek one. Contact the bank that oversees the loan and inquire about modification options. Be sure to ask if that particular bank still owns the mortgage loan. If they don’t they can’t modify the loan. Inform the bank (owner) of the loan of any financial hardships (if any). Assemble any financial documents the bank may need from you – including two pay stubs, latest W2, K-1s and any investment assets. If a bank puts off the request, don’t stop contacting them.
  3. Set-up a bi-weekly payment plan:
    Many lenders won’t accept partial payments, so instead, have half of the payment automatically transferred in a savings account every two weeks. At the end of the month, have the money transferred to the lender. At the end of the year, 13 payments would have been made instead of 12.
  4. Refinance to a lower interest rate:
    There are many reasons why a loan may be refinanced, so be sure to calculate all payments and potential savings before making this decision. A lower monthly payment comes with a higher interest rate, resulting in more spent. If an individual is planning to sell their home in a few years, it may not be worth refinancing. Getting a lower interest rate may not be the best decision for individuals well into paying back a mortgage because it will add more time for the payoff, but individuals who aren’t that far won’t see much of a change. 
These are just a few ways to save on your mortgage. Be sure to ask questions and not accept the first loan that comes along. Understanding the details of a major decision like this can make the difference between saving money and losing money.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Six Myths About The Mortgage Industry

It’s graduation season and now, more than ever, there is an increase in the amount of college graduates moving to metropolitan areas. Houston is near the top of the list of cities growing with these young professionals, and this age group is the main force behind the housing marketing in 2015. However, many of this new generation still believe old myths about mortgages, making the home buying process more difficult for them. The following are the six most common myths regarding mortgage lending.
  1. A 20% down payment is necessary.
    There are many options available for new homebuyers (or even those who have already gone through this process). There is no need for a large down payment, but keep in mind, the lower the amount offered beforehand, the higher your monthly mortgage payments will be. 
  2. It’s hard to find a lender.
    Many homebuyers believe lending requirements are tough. Your financial situation does play a part in the home buying process, but be sure to speak with a reputable lender about low payment options and always remember to get a second – and third – opinion.
  3. Buying is always better than renting.
    On average, it takes about 5-7 years to break even with the costs of buying a home in comparison to renting, so be sure the amount of time spent in a home with be at least this long. 
  4. The 36% total debt rule.
    Many lenders follow the 36% debt rule – if a potential buyer’s total debt is less than 36% of their total income, they can afford a mortgage payment. Instead of following this rule, track annual spending. Save at least this much toward a down payment to see if a mortgage payment is possible. 
  5. There’s no rush, because the rates will stay low.
    There is no one entity that controls mortgage rates. The rates change daily in response to various economic events both nationally and internationally. With the growth of the economy, mortgage rates may rise as well. Don’t be afraid to begin the buying process.
  6. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the best choice.
    The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the norm, but this doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every buyer. It depends on how long a buyer plans to live in the home – sometimes this is five years or ten years. If a 30-year mortgage is agreed upon, buyers could loose money from higher interest rates.
As more young professionals move to Houston, the more potential buyers need to know truth from myth. Be sure to know the facts before agreeing to a mortgage that isn’t appropriate for your budget or too lengthy for your lifestyle and career. Lenders know buyers aren’t perfect and will help find mortgages tailored to your needs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

30 Year vs. 15 Year Conundrum

Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions of your life. Knowing and understanding which home mortgage loan type to choose is critical.
The first step is choosing the right type of loan. Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages are the most common, but there are also Veteran Affairs, Federal Housing Administration, balloon, interest-only and reverse mortgages. Thus, the best choice will depend on your financial position, the state of the economy and your willingness to take a risk.
There are several questions you should ask yourself when deciding on a loan:
  1. How long do you plan to be living in that particular house?
  2. Are you willing to take financial risks?
  3. Are there restrictions associated with the loan options?
  4. Are there any penalties you will incur?
Below is a quick rundown of the mortgage options you will most likely see:
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
  1. Helps you purchase a more expensive home that meets the families real needs, and allows you to pay for it over time.
  2. Has an increased tax deduction because you’re paying more annual interest.
  3. Provides flexibility for families with fluctuating monthly income by allowing them to pay more or less based on their monthly cash-flow.
 15 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
  1. Homeowners are able to pay off their home faster while also earning equity faster, which helps support their overall financial plan.
  2. Homeowners will be able to save interest, which adds up significantly over 30 years.
  3. A 15 year mortgage allows families to align their mortgage with significant life events such as retirement or a college education.
At Zeus, we offer a customized mortgage term, which allows families to pick their monthly payment first and their term second in order for the mortgage to fit your needs. Also, some homeowners have a fear of refinancing due to not wanting to start a 30-year term all over again. However, with our customizable terms, you can have a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment. For example, a family who has already paid their 30-year mortgage for four years can simply use out automized mortgage to refinance for 26 years while lowering their monthly payment and/or interest rate.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Agree With Foreclosures: Buyers Should Pay Their Bills On Time

Life is a game of circumstance, chance and decisions. Let’s face it, people sometimes make irresponsible decisions and are then surprised or devastated when the consequences of those bad choices come to life. The most common bad decision I see is buyers signing up for mortgages they can’t afford or can afford in the beginning but then spend their money on trivial things. Who needs to pay their mortgage payment when they can dine at 5-star restaurants four days out of the week?
Foreclosures are no laughing matter – they ruin lives, lifestyles and livelihoods. The most important thing to remember in these situations is that a promise was broken. Many people know they can’t afford something, but sign anyways thinking that the odds will be ever in their favor. Nine times out of ten, it won’t be.
I can’t stress enough to do your research and evaluate every detail of your budget before agreeing on a mortgage loan and interest rate. If you know you’re a frivolous spender, do yourself a favor and think long and hard before entering a binding loan that can potentially destroy your life. A new wardrobe is not worth loosing your – and your family’s – home.
Buying a home, and with it entering a mortgage, is one of the most important financial decisions of your life. You may think you’re ready for the commitment – but are you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

3 Easy Ways to Pay-off a Mortgage Faster

The Houston real estate market has never been hotter! This is great news for families who have been able to earn more equity, get top dollar and maximize their profits from selling their homes. For families who want to keep their home, try using one of the following tips to pay-off a mortgage faster, help save thousands in interest expense and align home equity with significant life events such as retirement or college education.
1. Adding in an extra payment annually:A mortgage is a big undertaking - everyone dreads paying it each month. Homeowners could potentially save over $45,000 in interest and cut down the length of their mortgage payment by about 5 years if an extra payment is added in annually. Be ready to tighten budgets, and to spend an extra $100 a month on a mortgage payment. These extra $100 payments will be applied to the principal amount, and cut the loan little by little.
2. Set-up a bi-weekly payment plan:Many lenders don’t accept half payments, so try to set up a bi-weekly payment into another account. Put half of the payment in a savings account, then pay the mortgage lender from that account. This may sound a little crazy but by doing this, there are 13 full payments made instead of 12!
3. Refinancing to a lower interest rate:One of the most common ways to lower a mortgage payment is to refinance because it helps save on interest payments. There are usually fees that go along with doing this, but individuals can recover these after some time. By refinancing, especially in today’s economy, an interest rate can be lowered. Never forget to check if other companies can offer a better rate!
By using one of these simple tips, a family could save big on their mortgage by paying-off their mortgage faster, without sacrificing their lifestyle. Think about the type of mortgage currently being paid and how it can affect all financial aspects over time. These do not save everyone the same amount, but they do work for everyone.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Zeus Mortgage Awarded the 2015 BBB “Award for Excellence”

Zeus Mortgage, a leading mortgage lender, announces the company has officially been awarded the “Award for Excellence” by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for the third year in a row. The BBB Education Foundation will honor BBB Accredited Businesses and Charity Partners that maintain a superior commitment to ethics and overall excellence and quality in the workplace.

Zeus Mortgage is one of the fastest growing mortgage companies in Texas, comprised of a team of experts who are regularly interviewed by major television networks, such as ABC, SBC, FOX and CNN, for their extensive real estate market knowledge. In addition, Steven Kaufman, CEO of Zeus Mortgage has been featured two consecutive years in the National Professional Magazine as one of the top 40 most influential mortgage professionals under 40.

“Receiving recognition for our efforts is a true honor, as we strive to provide the best service we can for our clients,” stated Steven Kaufman, CEO, Zeus Mortgage. “Being named a finalist in such a respectable awards program lets us know we are on the right track and we will use this incredible honor as a stepping stone in our future endeavors.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Houston’s Top 5 Outer Loop Neighborhoods

At a certain point in our lives, it’s time for some of us to leave the city behind. We trade the bustling streets of downtown for quieter communities outside the 610 loop. While suburbs have long been thought of as havens for soccer moms and bored teens, Houston’s outer loop communities have grown in atmosphere and amenities.

Many outer loop neighborhoods have become top spots for prime real estate and for good reasons. These growing communities often offer small-city life with only a half-hour drive from the excitement within the loop.
  1. Cinco Ranch, a master-planned community known for its top-notch schools, used to be a suburb of another suburb, Katy. Now, it boasts a city center, La Ceterra, that hints at city life with bars, a Torchy’s Tacos and Trader Joe’s grocery store and a growing string of businesses off of I-99. As for the homes themselves, they’re often custom-built and on large lots - and are snapping up quickly.
  2. Houston may be the energy capital of the world, but many of its oil and gas headquarters are well outside the loop. The Energy Corridor is home to many of these companies and their employees. The area has homes in a wider price range and lot size.
  3. Looking for something a little more on the posh side? Try Bay Oaks. Further out than most, it’s located in Clear Lake and consists of large, luxury homes around a plush green golf course and country club.
  4. Sedona Lakes and its 900 homes were designed to provide a small-town atmosphere not too far from the city. It prides itself on its “Arizona ambience,” derived from the natural stone imported from the region.
  5. Meyerland is right on the outskirts of the loop. Just 15 minutes from spots like the Texas Medical Center and Downtown, it offers city living at somewhat lower housing prices and family-oriented neighborhoods. 
City life isn’t for everyone, but the suburbs can be just as exciting, especially with the rate of greater Houston’s growth. Do you live outside the loop and love your community? Tell me where and why in the comments!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Falling Oil Prices and Its Impact On the Mortgage Industry

The current environment surrounding falling oil prices has affected consumers and producers around the globe, with fear that the recent plunges could cause the home prices to fall as well. However, that’s not the case.
Energy stocks are being compared to the housing market in the U.S. after the subprime mortgage crisis. Triggered by a large decline in the prices of homes, this lead to mortgage felonies, foreclosures and deflation. 
Real estate economists are predicting that mortgage rates will rise in 2015 and investors are buying now instead or waiting for oil and gas companies to regain strength, unlike the housing market during the energy crisis of 1980s.
Still unsure if it’s the right time for you to buy a home? Zeus Mortgage is here to answer your mortgage questions. Let me know your current mortgage concerns in the comments!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Top 5 Neighborhoods To Watch: Houston’s Inner Loop

Houston’s inner loop properties have long been sought after, but there are a few areas in particular that are quickly bought off the market. If you’re in the market for a new home, take a look at these five hot spots:
  1. Braeswood Place, a little piece of livable luxury in the southwest loop, is mainly single-family homes. With close proximity to the Medical Center, it may just be the last and best bang-for-your-buck in the loop. Large lot sizes and well-constructed homes are abound – but they’re snapped up quickly by eager buyers.
  2. Originally an independent city, Cottage Grove is now home to many young professionals and empty nesters. It’s close to Memorial Park, offering up a natural landscape against the expanding business community in the Memorial area.
  3. Just east of the oh-so-popular Heights and north of Downtown, Lindale Parkis one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods. With much thanks to its active, community-oriented civic club, it remains a hidden gem filled with 1940’s bungalows and families young and old.
  4. The First Ward is in the midst of a transition – with no real end destination in sight. Newly constructed townhomes make this a popular destination for young professionals, but it still fights to maintain its historical factor with its older, industrial buildings.
  5. Between the lofts, new yoga studios and fusion restaurants, EaDo (East Downtown) is hip and filling up fast. You won’t find many single-family homes here, but townhomes and contemporary mid-rise condos are plentiful.
Which neighborhoods are you looking at for your next home? Inner or outer loop? Trendy or traditional? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Three Ways To Motivate Your Employees

Summer is here and with it comes a lack of concentration and possibly even the summertime blues in the office. It’s hard not to think about European escapes, a weekend getaway to Galveston for a quick beach trip or even just a day off for a staycation. When employees spend most of their time longing to get away from the office, it hurts productivity and workplace morale – but there’s still hope 
Here are three ways to motivate employees to come to work excited and ready to get their work done during those lazy summer days.
  1. Team bonding:
    This may seem like a given, but many companies don’t know how to execute this well. Zeus Mortgage implements a new team exercise every month. On Friday afternoon, their team participates in a specific challenge chosen for that month. For example, one month focused on yoga and another month they sampled various types of coffee from around the world. It doesn’t have to be big, and there doesn’t necessarily need to be money spent, but when people know they are apart of a team, it makes them feel more connected and promotes a positive atmosphere. 
  2. Open environment:
    An open environment doesn’t necessarily mean having an open floor plan, but focuses on encouraging open communication. If employees feel like they can’t join a conversation or are too afraid to voice their ideas, opinions or grievances, there is a problem. It may sound cliché, but having a team that works in harmony can never lead to disrupt in the work place. This is something that helps not only during summer, but all year long. 
  3. Summer hours:
    Many businesses already incorporate this, but it can be a successful tactic if done correctly. Hours may vary – half day Fridays, no working on Fridays at all, etc. – but if employees can look forward to an incentive, they will work harder during the week to finish projects on time and produce great work.
It doesn’t take too much to encourage employees to stay in the work frame of mind, but remember they aren’t machines – everyone needs a break. Plus, there’s plenty to do in Houston during the summer, and no one wants to be left out!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Open Carry in the Workplace is Bad for Business

I’ve said it before, this is nothing but continued self-fulfilling negative PR, and unfortunately for everyone in Baltimore, perception is reality. Just when I was hoping “open carry” wouldn’t get to the goal line in Texas the internet begins to use the Baltimore riots as an example of why we “need” open carry – but they’re wrong.
“You can’t get ahead when you’re trying to get even.” – Unknown
Q: What’s open carry in Texas have to do with Baltimore?
A: Nothing directly, but showing young black men rioting in the streets is all the PR you need to get such a counterproductive and silly bill, put forth by another minority and then voted into a law. There was a sliver of hope that the governor wouldn’t sign before the Baltimore riots. Now it’s just justification for the proponents.
Q: Why the opposition to open carry?A: There are a lot of good people that carry openly. You cannot tell from looking at someone if they are currently carrying a concealed weapon. This is helpful because the element of surprise is better than potentially becoming a target.
If you currently have a CHL, then you can carry your gun (concealed) in most places during your daily routine (gas station, restaurant, etc.). When a bunch of idiots of any race start to show off their guns at those places, that leads to these establishments prohibiting ALL guns. This basically eliminates the advantage and privilege given to current CHL holders.
Have you noticed who gets shot first in movies and even actual robberies? The guy with the gun – because he’s the obvious threat. If you want to rob someone then you identify and eliminate the threats first, so I suspect many more unassuming open carry citizens to get into unnecessary situations that will be dangerous for themselves and others.
I don’t want my daughters at a toy store standing next to an idiot with his 45 on his hip. A lot of CHL holders do not carry because it’s hard for the to conceal their preferred carry weapon, but with open carry we will see much larger, much more dangerous weapons in public.
You cannot identify a real-life situation where an open carry scenario would be better than a concealed carry scenario.
Q: Are you defending the criminals that are rioting and not the law abiding citizens that want to protect their families and businesses?A: No, I’m not.
Q: Why not support open carry? I’d feel more comfortable seeing other open carriers in my midst.A: Police and military practice open carry for access, not as a deterrent. For example, many detectives and federal positions do not open carry since they do not need access the same way as a soldier or police officer does. It’s a small business owner’s right to not alienate a majority of their customers for the preferences of the few, and I’ll unfortunately be lumped in with that group. I do not and will not feel comfortable with open carry in the midst of my daughters. There is more safety in concealment. Like I said above, there are almost no real-life scenarios where an open carry would be more beneficial to a concealed carry.
All of the questions and answers I’ve stated can be applied to the workplace. I would not feel comfortable letting my employees open carry – let alone would I want to alienate an employee who feels the same way.
Join the discussion! Let me know what you think of open carry in the workplace policies.